Gratitude and Respect

As I traveled today to celebrate the life of Charlie Decoster in Kentucky, I had the opportunity to witness so many of the basic lessons that God wants us to learn time and again until we know them by heart. I experienced life and death, the kindness of both friends and strangers, heard the word of God from many different voices, hugged some of my kids, hugged the rest over the phone, and had one more day when I could tell the love of my life that I loved her, what simple blessings.

Maggie, Max, Molly and M.E. were still snuggled in bed when Ed arrived this morning so that I could catch the first of four flights today. The five of them had a terrific time creating pottery, eating at Red Robin, watching movies and getting all of the chores done around the house. Thank you Ed, you are a true friend. They are all tucked in for the night as I sit and share today’s prayer with you. Because I spent the day in the Bible belt, I had the opportunity to spend some time listening to preachers on the radio as well as Charlie’s pastor speaking at the funeral and the graveside. I was also blessed to be able to spend some quality time with God. Two thoughts continued to surface throughout the day, one was a picture I have seen many times of Jesus standing outside a door that only has a handle on one side of the door, the image is pointedly clear, God will not force a relationship upon us, but will wait patiently until we invite Him into our lives. And He will be RIGHT THERE all the time, every time. The other thought was am I thankful for all that I have. In the midst of Catie’s journey and her disease, how often have I stopped and gotten down on my knees and thanked God for the health and well being of my beloved wife and the other 5 kids. A few updates back, Christine related a story about being at mass when the priest asked, “if God stood in front of you right now and told you that you could have anything, what would you ask for?” At this point, I would ask for Catie’s health and their safe return so that we could all be together again. 2 months ago, I would not have asked for that because I already had it. I had the blessing, but did I thank God for it, or did I take it for granted? If I were homeless, I would ask for shelter for my family, but because I am blessed to have a home, do I stop and recognize that blessing? After I send this tonight, I will fall on my knees at the bedside of each of the kids and thank God that they are alive and safe, and then I will call the woman I love and recognize the blessing that I have that I can reach her by phone while there are those who cannot. Gratitude.

Respect. One of the things I noticed as the funeral procession wound its way through the streets of Berea was that every single car on every side street and coming in the opposite direction pulled over and stopped as the hearse passed. I have been to funerals in Philly recently……..not. Whether it is the pace of life or the volume of traffic, the simple gesture of the people of Berea touched me as they paused to show respect for the dead. But in Philly, or Kentucky, or wherever we are, do we stop at all as we pass each other on the road of life and show respect for each other while we are still alive? How many people have I passed by without even acknowledging them? Please forgive me God and my neighbor for not “seeing” you. My last thought on this day is of the song that was played at the funeral. It was a prayer to God, and the prayer was a simple one, “I’m desperate for You, and I’m lost without You.”

Life goes on in Tennessee. We are blessed with Catie’s continued good health during this phase of the treatment. While she had the one really bad day at the outset of the radiation treatments and has experienced total hair loss, the medication and Christine’s flexibility in finding ways to keep Catie’s food intake going has allowed her to maintain her weight while 3 other children undergoing similar therapies have lost an average of 10 pounds. Thank you God! And thank you to all of you whose cards, letters and financial support has allowed us to keep Catie basking in love either by mail or by plane. You have let her know in every piece of correspondence and in every person whose travel expenses you have defrayed how special she is, and she is riding that wave. The visit with Megan and Mia has gone well, and we hope to remember to pick them up at the airport tomorrow, but I am kind of tired and I do on occasion have wardrobe malfunctions, so I guess we’ll see.

If you are registered on the website, you will get this message twice, but we want anyone that wants to be registered to be able to do so. We will be doing the updates from the website exclusively beginning Thursday so that people have the time to get on.

Know that we are taking your prayer requests to the Lord each day and will be posting those that you have asked us to share shortly. May you all have a restful and peaceful Sunday.

Love and God Bless you,


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